Arlington, VA

A local watering hole and entertainment spot is reopening, despite the pandemic.

Punch Bowl Social had been open for just over a year at Ballston Quarter when the pandemic struck and the business — which is premised on large groups of people drinking, dining and playing games — was shuttered.

The situation for Punch Bowl Social looked bleak as Cracker Barrel, a major corporate backer, pulled its support and the Denver-based “eatertainment” company was forced to lay off a majority of its restaurant and corporate employees.

But the national chain, which had 19 locations at the outset of the pandemic, has been slowly reopening locations since July, and the Ballston location is one of the next in line.

A spokeswoman for the company confirmed to ARLnow what a newly-posted sign on the door tells passersby: Punch Bowl Social is planning to reopen on Monday, Oct. 12.

Though the appeal of a business with “social” in its name during a time of social distancing seems dubious — and that’s not to mention the shared punch bowls that constitute the other part of the brand’s identity — there is some reason for optimism.

Punch Bowl Social’s space in Ballston is massive, providing plenty of room for people to spread out, and there’s also a sizable outdoor patio. It might just be the next best cold-weather option to the outdoor beer gardens that proved very popular with young bar-goers this summer.

“This brand has always been about bringing people together and creating social connections,” CEO Robert Thompson told Restaurant Dive in June. “We need that now more than ever, and with our expansive, open floorplans we can do that in a way that will make people feel, for a moment, a renormalization of life.”

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